Nova Scotia's Sable Island to be Protected

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Sable Island will be protected for years to come as a result of a commitment from the province and the government of Canada.

Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell and Jim Prentice, Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, Jan. 25, announced that the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia will take the necessary steps to protect Sable Island as either a national park or a national wildlife area for the benefit of future generations.

"The province of Nova Scotia supports the government of Canada's commitment to secure conservation of Sable Island," said Mr. MacDonell. "Sable Island has long been part of Nova Scotia's history and maritime culture, and we want to ensure that this unique part of our province is preserved and protected."

"It is with pleasure that I announce the commitment by the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia to permanently protect Sable Island," said Mr. Prentice. "This unique ecosystem is home to some of the rarest wildlife in Canada. It is our honour to take this step to protect it on behalf of all Canadians, forever."

Designation under appropriate federal legislation will contribute to the 12 per cent commitment under Nova Scotia's Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act for protecting land.

After the announcement, the ministers signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the steps both governments will take over the next 12 months to legally protect Sable Island under either the Canada National Parks Act or the Canada Wildlife Act.

After consulting the public, stakeholders and others on the recommended option, the governments will negotiate an appropriate agreement and then designate the area for protection. The designation would ensure the conservation of the island's special features and wildlife for the benefit of future generations.

Sable Island supports some important wildlife populations: 150 to 400 wild horses that were introduced shortly after 1738, numerous migrant and breeding birds including nesting colonial water birds herring gulls, great black backed gulls, and common terns. It also supports the world's largest congregation of breeding grey seals and harbour seals.

There are many species at risk, including the entire population of the vulnerable Ispwich Savannah sparrow. The island is 40 kilometres of unconsolidated sand, stabilised primarily by vegetation cover and ocean currents. Its primary habitats are native grassland and mud/sand flats.

The year 2010 marks the 125th anniversary of Canada's first national park and the world's third protected area, as well as the International Year of Biodiversity, a celebration that brings greater attention to the importance of protecting biodiversity around the world.